Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Practical Advice for Working Lawyers

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Practical Advice for Working Lawyers

Article excerpt


By David Margolick For fun, profit and protection, practical advice for the working lawyer.

In these increasingly competitive times, lawyers can never get enough tips. Hence the proliferation of consultants, newsletters and columns offering advice to the law-lorn, all of which are neatly distilled into the ``Professional Pointers'' corner of Lawyers Alert.

Lawyers Alert, a biweekly publication, prides itself on providing ``practical news for practicing lawyers.'' In that spirit, it offers its readers, mostly practitioners in smaller firms, the latest intelligence, news-you-can-use and state-of-the-art tricks lifted out of everything from Arizona Attorney to Bank Bailout Litigation News.

Some suggestions are simple.

Keep an extra list of clients elsewhere in case your office ignites. Watch out for office temporaries: one survey has shown that nearly half have credit problems, criminal records or both. Publicize your firm's 5th, 10th or 25th anniversary.

To coddle clients but not be bothered by them, get a rubber stamp that says, ``For your information. No need to call me.'' Beware of experts who earn more from testifying than from studying. Hire a veteran cab driver during jury selection to tell you a candidate's class and ethnicity from his address.

Others collected by Lawyers Alert are more substantive.

Don't just say, `I told you so,' write it down.

``Send a letter setting forth your original advice and the reasons for it, and the fact that your client has instructed you to handle it differently,'' Victor Levit, a San Francisco lawyer, told the South Carolina Bar Association recently. ``This should be a complete defense to a later legal malpractice action.''

Good citizenship is good business.

``Have your firm sponsor a series of `public law education' classes where you invite the public to discuss topical legal issues,'' The Compleat Lawyer advises. ``This can be a subtle and effective form of marketing.''

Kill with all deliberate speed.

``Never attack a witness on cross-examination without making sure the jury wants you to do so,'' James Martin Davis advises in Trial magazine. ``Jurors tend to sympathize with witnesses and lawyers who `come out fighting' end up looking like bullies. Take time to bring out the witness's hostility and evasiveness. Then move in for the kill.''

Let Nader be your raider.

You can save a lot of leg work by buying ``6,982 Questionable Doctors,'' a 1,300-page compilation by Public Citizen, an advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader. …

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